RIH AT 100: First doctor, early remedies and a celebration
Kamloops’ first doctor
On Aug. 28, 1863, Kamloops welcomed its first trained physician — but he didn’t stay long.
Dr. Walter Butler Cheadle travelled down the North Thompson with a group of friends one year after the Overlanders made the same journey. Cheadle wrote about the visit in his diary, describing a meeting with Jean Baptiste Lolo St. Paul.
The European party was fed, treated to a dance and stayed overnight. The next day, they crossed the South Thompson and stayed in the abandoned Old Fort for 10 days.
During that time, Cheadle treated St. Paul — referred to in his diary as “the old boy with a bad leg” — making their interaction, on Sept. 3, 1863, the first between a doctor and patient in Kamloops.
Remedies from the 19th century
Have a cold? Hopefully you also have goose grease and turpentine. You’re going to want to mix the two together, rub the concoction on your chest — and you’re healed.
For a cough and sore throat, why not try cooking salt pork in hot vinegar? Then, fasten the pork around your neck with a piece of red flannel. All out of salt pork and vinegar? Try wrapping a dirty sock around your neck.
Need a painkiller? Try cocaine drops — marketed specifically for teething children in the 1880s — or heroin syrup.
In addition to substances now illegal, other medicines of the time included dangerous ingredients like mercury and lead.
Has a threshing accident left one of your limbs in rough shape? Don’t worry, the barber can help.
In rural areas in the 1800s, before doctors were readily available, barbers routinely performed emergency amputations.
The patient would be plied with alcohol, the affected limb sawed off and the veins and arteries cauterized with hot tar.
Have a toothache? With no dentists in town until the 1900s, you would have been out of luck.
But, don’t fret — barbers, butchers, blacksmiths and even farmers were allowed to advertise their tooth-pulling services, which involved cutting the gums around the tooth and using a tool called a “turnkey.”
Celebrating 100 years of RIH
To learn more about the hospital’s history, patients and visitors are invited to peruse archived photos on display in the main hospital lobby.
On Friday, Sept. 14, volunteers will serve cake to staff, visitors and patients, while at 7:30 p.m., a time-lapse photo project will be undertaken at the hospital.
Call 250-314-2100 (ext. 2230) for information.